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  • Writer's pictureSteph

How to keep going when you've already been going

Updated: May 20, 2022

You’ve done everything you can – now what?

In track, the 400M race is legendary: one lap, as fast as you can go. Around 300M, everyone ‘hits the wall’. Your muscles fatigue, depleted by glycogen, and you feel nauseous as the finish line becomes blurry. Everything hurts, and you wonder why you are doing this.

That last 100M is all mental.

I have run this race and I have watched this race. The most interesting part? No one stops. Everyone finishes. The human spirit is indomitable.

Maybe, you are at the 300M mark in your job search.

You have a work vision that is worth fighting for and I want you to win. If you are doing everything you can and facing challenges, it is more likely due to the complexity of job searching than a personal shortcoming.

One thing every athlete knows: it is always too soon to give up.

Here are some ways to channel your energy and finish the race.

Define the problem.

When elite athletes work with coaches, if there is a roadblock, they don’t stop – they assess.

I’m doing everything I can and nothing’s happening, you may think. This reaction is understandable but we have to go a step further in problem solving. Feelings are a good start because they alert us that something is not right. After that, it’s time to get specific.

Think about the current state of your search. What is the actual concern?

I am not receiving callbacks.

I’m getting interviews, but no offers.

I am stuck in my brainstorming (too few options, too many options, I don’t like my options).

I’m afraid to network /don’t like networking.

I can’t find any jobs to apply to, that interest me or match my skills.

I don’t have time to job search.

I’m not feeling supported.

I am experiencing burnout.

Do any of these fit? Is it something else?

It will be easier to find solutions and take appropriate action when you can articulate clearly what’s really going on.

Advanced tip: Also reflect on what is going well. There are always positives. Challenge yourself to accurately assess your strengths and areas of opportunity.

Change it up.

It’s common for athletes to hit a plateau and feel stuck. This is not a quitting point. It is a chance to experiment: train in a different way, enlist additional resources and continue to pursue excellence. Keep the goal; alter your approach.

If you encounter job search inertia, reframe it as a chance to get creative and re-engage with your overall strategy. Doing novel things also keeps the brain alert and attuned to finding new answers. Mix it up to yield a better result.

Here are some ideas:

  • Change your resume (e.g., format, content, personal branding). Obtain on-the-ground feedback from people in your field of interest.

  • Ask a mentor or a coach to do a mock interview with you.

  • Take a break from the job boards. Reach out to a few people in your network – or make introductions – to gather company information, industry trends and potential leads.

  • Go to a different source for advice, inspiration and guidance.

  • Use new search parameters, preferences and keywords.

  • Allow yourself time to reflect and regroup through journaling, art or meditation to reconnect with your intuition for next steps.

By shifting even one thing, you’ll start a ripple effect that just may change your luck.

Take a recovery day.

Any athlete will tell you that recovery is vital to a good training regimen. Our muscle fibers strengthen, repair and regenerate while we sleep, for example.

Job searching when you are burned-out is akin to over-exercising or cramming for final exams too many nights in a row. There comes a point when you reach diminishing returns.

If you are sleep-deprived, filled with stress, and your fatigue is making you falsely believe that anything you do is pointless, it will be extremely difficult to take positive action to change your situation. Remember, that last 100M of the race – or job search – is driven by mindset.

Take a strategic pause for some self-care. Prioritize sleep and get your body moving, in the ways that you can, to release tension and regain perspective. Or, recharge in ways that are possible for you. Fuel up with nourishing food and connect with a good friend for some much-needed camaraderie. (Just be sure it doesn’t turn into a gripe session.)

I promise; a few days off, combined with adding ongoing self-care, is not only good for our health and wellbeing – it is well-deserved, strategic and will make your job search stronger.

Reset the clock.

It’s human nature to backdate a job search to the very first day you decided you wanted a change. The problem with this, it has the reverse effect of making time seem longer than it really is. It also does not give proper credit to your efforts, constant learning and fine-tuning, which lead to success.

This is why I prefer to envision iterations or rounds, and reduce emphasis on time, overall. Each time you discover or implement something new for your job search, train yourself to see it as a victory. This adds fresh energy and optimism.

Here may be the only place in life that you can say, “I’m starting the clock over.” It is far more motivating. New strategy, new set point. As long as the scoreboard is still running, you’re in the game.

Life is unique

Finally, take a moment to recognize the unique characteristics of your search, and check if you are being too hard on yourself.

For instance, maybe you have a really cool career path that is hard to enter but really fulfilling. Or, you could be searching while employed with limited time, have a relationship you value (or desire), a health priority, caretaking responsibilities or another personal situation. If you are unemployed, there is an added emotional and financial toll. These are all factors to compassionately acknowledge, reasons to valiantly stay the course, and why you should be proud of all that you are doing.

And, again, you may be doing everything right. This is a weird job market. Don't give up.

Remember, it’s not about what ‘more’ can you do. You are probably already doing a lot. Be creative and think about what you might do differently.

Keep going, take necessary action, and believe that you ultimately will find a job.

I’m rooting for you.

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